REPOST: How to: When writers want authors to Guest Blog…

While speaking at the wonderful Whidbey Island Writers Conference this past weekend, I was asked a question: “If you’re not a literary agent, how do you get an author to agree to appear on your blog?” Oooohhhh. It struck me that it must seem MUCH harder than it actually is to interview an author for your blog or to have them guest blog for you. So raise your sword because I swear by the power of Grayskull…you can do this.

…and here is how, aka, follow the pictures.

Pick an author. For our purposes, we will choose an author that has appeared on This Literary Life: Gitty Daneshvari. Author of the School of Fear series.

Now, there is a reason I chose Gitty. It wasn’t a random choice. I KNOW my readers. They are writers and they write children’s books. This was a calculated choice. You do not want to feature an author whom none of your readers will identify with. Plus, Gitty is just absolutely fantastic.

So, I’ve selected my author. The next thing you will want to do is get in contact with your author. Sometimes you will not be able to do this, and that’s just a fact. But for every author who does not put contact info on their Web site, there is an author that does. So I head on over here:

Then I went here:

Can you feel it? We’re getting closer…

VOILA! So the truth is, the easy part is over. Now you write an EXTREMELY polite and informative email to the author and…WAIT. DO NOT PESTER. I don’t think I can stress that enough. Write once, and wait. If they never get back to you, move on.

So this was my next step:

It took her a few days to respond, and we found a time that worked for HER (do not make this about yourself, they are doing you a huge favor. You work on their time schedule).

A word about blogs: Always tag and use categories on your blog!!! When tagging or using categories, use “hot words” like Gitty Daneshvari and School of Fear and Middle Grade Books, etc. “Hot words” are words that people use in a Google search. You do this so that your blog has a higher chance of appearing when someone searches these words. Advice: Look through your entire blog post after you have finished writing it and think to yourself: what key words or ideas are used in this post that people would Google search? Then tag them or use them in the categories.

Also, use images. Not only does it make reading a blog post much more exciting, but when people Google Image Search for Gitty Daneshvari, the image I used of Gitty will appear with the many others, and will drive traffic to my blog.

ALWAYS feed your blog link through other social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, etc.

**It’s important to remember that authors are people too. Which means a few things: They love to promote their books, as well they should. It also means that they have crazy hectic lives just like all of us, and “no” is very much a reasonable answer. So, be patient, choose wisely, and remember that “if you never ask, you’ll never get.”

A Taste of Travel and Twitter

On April 15 and 16, my client, JoAnna Haugen, will be presenting two workshops at the Las Vegas Writers Conference. One will focus on travel writing, while the other will provide a primer on social media usage for writers. Intrigued? Here’s a teaser from JoAnna regarding what participants will learn during her sessions:

Travel the World, Tell the Story

Many people dream of living the travel writing life. After all, travel writers jet around in first class to exotic destinations all over the globe. They sip mai tais on deserted beaches, chase wildlife across the savannah, go deep sea diving with great white sharks, stay in the most expensive hotels, have seen every famous work of art … and get paid a healthy chunk of change to say they’ve been there, done that.

Or is that the case?

Travel writing certainly has its perks. Yes, writers do get to stay in some super swanky digs (though I’ve never gone deep sea diving with sharks), but being a travel writer is still a job … and not a high-paying one at that. When I travel, my days are filled with tours, activities, interviews and research. I eat rich food and once had eight glasses of eight different types of wine sitting in front of my dinner plate so that I could understand the intricacies of pairing. I go snorkeling, and then I hop out of the water to ask questions of the person who runs the excursion company. I take showers in huge marble bathrooms, but I take note of how hot the water is and if the pressure is any good. After all, I have to share this information with my readers.

I work long hours with (often) sketchy internet access from the road. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with stories; other times I struggle to scrape something together.

Admittedly, though, I have a stellar job, and many people aspire to have the same. During Travel the World, Tell the Story, I’ll be sharing details not on the travel writing life, but on what makes a successful piece of travel writing. Some of my key points include:

  • Research what you can before you travel.
  • Avoid clichés.
  • Bring your writing alive with characters, dialogue and action.

Social Media for Writers

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’re savvy enough to know that an online presence and real time communication via social media is important for writers. But what, exactly, is social media, and how can you as a writer best make use of the tools available to you?

I’ve discovered that many writers know they should be engaged in social media, but the big bad world of the internet can be a fairly intimidating place. From Twitter and YouTube to blogs and forums, how are writers supposed to know where to use their precious time and energy? Because there is a lot to understand when it comes to social media, many writers simply avoid it, and, as a result, they may be missing out on precious opportunities to network with industry movers and shakers (like Bree!), promote their work, engage in new writing opportunities and learn about new trends in writing.

Social media includes the various forms of user-generated content and the collection of websites and applications that allow people to interact and share information with each other in an online atmosphere. This means that social media not only includes those social networking sites with which you might be most familiar such as Facebook and Twitter, but also video sharing sites, blogs and online forum spaces. Yes, that’s a lot of content, but don’t let it freak you out!

Social Media for Writers is an introductory session that breaks down the various components of social media and highlights those that are most helpful for writers as they create and develop their promotional platforms. In addition, participants will learn:

  • How specific social media tools can be utilized by writers.
  • Why social media is important for writers.
  • How writers can engage in social media in a way that best benefits them.

-JoAnna Haugen